WP Defense Tips and Tricks

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WP Defense Tips and Tricks

Postby PracticalM on Sat 28 Dec 2013 13:39

Based on conversation in the Solar thread on fighter bays and bases, WP defense came up. Rather than flood that thread with WP Defense conversations, I felt starting a new thread would be beneficial.

ULTRAs WPs are said to be easier to build solid defenses and I'm curious about that because my players have done a pretty good job against most of my NPRs WP defenses and in fairness I've had NPRs break their defenses as well.

I'm curious what people are doing differently and why things we experienced may not be the same as others.
Note: My campaigns are pretty straight ULTRA with the change that small craft fire in the same phase as ships.

AP. Both players and NPRs have used AP to break and defend WPs. Using explosive warhead weapons are common. I'm curious how players deploy them and their targeting parameters. My players and NPRs generally do not leave much of the AP active because there have been very common tricks where ships jump in just to flush out the active buoys. This can be expensive for the defender. We only allow active ships with APC (or CC in ULTRA) to activate buoys so having enough APC ships is key.

How are players preventing large fields from being destroyed by a small attacking waves of ships or drones?
AP with basic sensors are triggered by drones.

On the attack, frequently Drones with XO or explosive warheads and sY allowing for them to attack a specific Ship size. Or setting the timers so XO drones have a chance to get behind the close in defenders to try to avoid point defense. (doable if you set the engagement zone around the WP and run the drone out a bit).
We've also used Bs on ships to launch drones from WP attackers (and defenders) with programs that have specific engagement zones that can likely target just a few ships.


Building Ships to attack specific sized WPs. At least 2 of my players design WP assault ships specific to attacking specific WP sizes. They don't need to be maintained that much because they are mothballed when not in use and trained to average as they get ready for the assault. The ships are usually pretty good in the defense as well serving double duty when needed. Ships are a designed to get through small WPs are frequently able to pass 2 or 3 through a larger WP so smaller WP assault ships are more common.

More Ships. In general it should take 3 turns for the defenses to be fully active. The attacker can send in 18x the WP size in those 3 turns. So defending with less than 18x the WP size the attacker will have more HS than the defender. A credible defense of 25-30x the WP size is good but in our games the attacker is happy to push through at least 6 turns of ships which means even a 30x defense force is looking at even odds (depending on how things went with early or late activation or combat rolls).

Transit multipliers. My players feel if the goal of a WP attack is to get ships through a WP every modifier possible will be used. Fast ships for attacking WPs is very common even if the weapons cost more. Anything that puts more HS through the WP earlier is used.

Successive Waves. Since defenders go back to activation rolls, WP assaults are made over days with successive attacks wearing down the defenders. The goal is to get a localized force advantage and burn out any AP left active.
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Re: WP Defense Tips and Tricks

Postby PracticalM on Sat 28 Dec 2013 14:02

More on AP left on active.

I'm going to be as specific as I can here because I'm curious how people are getting around the limitations on buoy programming/targeting.

Basic defensive buoy set up
18 groups of fields
Each field contains 25 buoys
3 groups in each hex around the WP
Engagement area 0-6 hexes from the buoy (some will limit this to hexes doing more than 1 point of damage)
Trigger on any non friendly unit entering the engagement area
6 groups fire immediately
6 groups fire 1 turn delay
6 groups fire 2 turn delay

Even if you allow that the second and third groups won't fire if anything is there, you can build an attack coming through that can cause 150 AP to be destroyed. That's 6,000 MCr. and burning it up can be done for less than that with Drones.

Adding sY to buoys reduces their fire power and are more expensive. Controller and firing buoys are an option where there's a sY buoy that directs other buoys to fire.

If you don't have drones use a few ships. Unlikely they will be completely destroyed by the defending forces.
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Re: WP Defense Tips and Tricks

Postby Cralis on Sun 29 Dec 2013 03:23

PracticalM wrote:Even if you allow that the second and third groups won't fire if anything is there, you can build an attack coming through that can cause 150 AP to be destroyed. That's 6,000 MCr. and burning it up can be done for less than that with Drones.


Three questions come to mind:

1. What SL are you talking about? What buoy design? 6000 MCr for 150 buoys? Buoy1-APew would only cost you half that much.

2. Why place them so close? Sure, placing them 1 tH distance will maximize their damage but it also means that the enemy will very quickly detect them.

3. WHAT attack destroys 150 AP? What SL?

This balance changes over SL, so without this information I'm having a hard time evaluating this.
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Re: WP Defense Tips and Tricks

Postby PracticalM on Sun 29 Dec 2013 11:25

This discussion formed out the comments that Buoys are a force multiplier at WP and the direct quote was that "APew left ships swiss cheese" and I was curious how people got enough buoys active and how they stopped attacked that attempt to flush AP left active AP out.

1. You can't place weapons on Buoy 1. Anytime after SL4 you can get Buoy 2 and APew. APew doesn't improve with SL. We generally didn't use APew that much. It was much more fun to use Energy beams on AP and direct control them after we had a few shields down. Or use XO buoys and only activate the ones where they can get blind spot shots.

2. Propose a new deployment. I gave a common deployment for APew buoys that my players use for controlled buoys Those buoys only fire after a APC activates them with a program or often takes direct control. I'm not sure how moving the buoys further away helps though.

3. if there are ships/drone remaining in the engagement area, buoys will fire. If you fire Drone1 into the engagement area, you can get AP to fire if they don't have sY. A given cost APew buoys will have a hard time killing 1/10 of that cost in Drone1. Since APew buoys are expensive, most empires will take that trade.

This is a thread asking for more information. The deployment I gave an example of is why we stopped leaving our buoys active. What are other players doing that we are not? I want to know how other players are experiencing that ULTRA WPs are easy to bottle up. Which is not my experience at all. I want data.
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Re: WP Defense Tips and Tricks

Postby Xveers on Sun 29 Dec 2013 15:30

I'll have to go dig up the turn sheets for actual numbers, but I believe the battle I was specifically thinking of had about 300 BOUY2 with 2 APEW's each. Either laser or force beam, I can't remember which. Around the WP were several ships with APCa within 30 HS. They were placed one tH around the WP equally. First wave of ships transited in, and I think it was about... 100 AP that were then ordered to attack the nearest ship that had already transited on the next turn. So that's after the ships have transited and stabilized.

Incidentally, this was also the same battle that (I believe) resulted in some modifications to how D works on AP, since the defender made D-equipped mine patterns to deal with hostile gunboats. Those were posted a bit farther out from the WP and did a good job at roughing up the gunboats.

Warships (mainly BCs with Rb fittings) start going active in the second turn and begin pouring fire. I wish I had done a turn by turn on that particular battle. The assault order wasn't the best, and the attacker realized this later, but if his navy hadn't failed a morale check earlier they might have taken the WP.
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Re: WP Defense Tips and Tricks

Postby Cralis on Sun 29 Dec 2013 16:01

PracticalM wrote:This discussion formed out the comments that Buoys are a force multiplier at WP and the direct quote was that "APew left ships swiss cheese" and I was curious how people got enough buoys active and how they stopped attacked that attempt to flush AP left active AP out.

1. You can't place weapons on Buoy 1. Anytime after SL4 you can get Buoy 2 and APew. APew doesn't improve with SL. We generally didn't use APew that much. It was much more fun to use Energy beams on AP and direct control them after we had a few shields down. Or use XO buoys and only activate the ones where they can get blind spot shots.


Ahh... I haven't touched ULTRA in almost 5 years. I thought Marvin had changed it to work with APew. I should probably go back and look at the rules before commenting, no? (*sigh*)

Even so, Buoy2-APew (according to the ULTRA rules...) costs 10 + 15 = 25, or if you want to double the firepower, 10 + 15 + 15 = 40.

150 * 25 = 3750
150 * 40 = 6000

There we are.

Ok, so the choices are 240 Buoy2-APew are 150 Buoy2-APew(2). The second has better fire density, but the first has more targets. I guess the next question is how effective is the attack.

NOTE: I went back and read my notes on the SSF AP stuff we were looking at, and I have a note that Marvin said the only reason Buoy1 didn't originally have weapons was because there was no effective counter and thus too powerful. However, I have a question mark that he considered changing that. That is probably where the wrong connection my age-befuddled brain remembered. Every six months or so I fail to look up something and assumed I remembered correctly... let this be a lesson to new players that assumptions can get you into trouble!

2. Propose a new deployment. I gave a common deployment for APew buoys that my players use for controlled buoys Those buoys only fire after a APC activates them with a program or often takes direct control. I'm not sure how moving the buoys further away helps though.


Buoys are only detected at Scan Range (Table D5.02). Basic sensors don't have a scan range, and Ya through Ye (SL7) has a scan range of 2 or 3.

For Buoy2 that's pretty bad as it reduces damage to 1, and limits range (Fa is 3tH, Ea is 4 tH, La is 2 tH ... beyond those ranges the damage is 1, reduced by half, is zero).

But why not use XO? You can put 5 XOa on a Buoy2 (4 / 0.7), at a total cost of 10.5 for Buoy2, you can mount 5 Ra and they will have a range of 8 tH. It isn't as powerful as APew (it can be intercepted by D, after all), and they destroy themselves, but you can make many, many more of them (571 for 6000 MC). And you can mount them a LOT further away than Buoy2-APew.

EDIT: I forgot the cost of slave datalink, which adds an additional 1 MC, not counting the cost of the control buoy with sY. So that would make 521 Buoy2-XOa(5Ra), 230 Buoy2-APew, or 146 Buoy2-APew(2). The Buoy2-XOa requires this configuration to work since it should be firing at a range of 8 tH. Also, this avoids the situation you mentioned below using Drone1 as a decoy target.

3. if there are ships/drone remaining in the engagement area, buoys will fire. If you fire Drone1 into the engagement area, you can get AP to fire if they don't have sY. A given cost APew buoys will have a hard time killing 1/10 of that cost in Drone1. Since APew buoys are expensive, most empires will take that trade.


EDIT: I understand what you are saying. Direct Firing your buoys will avoid this, but you can't fire as many, even datalinked. BTW, we fixed his problem in SSF by allowing AP to detect the difference between large and small units with their inherent sensors.

And Drone1 can't mount weapons either :)

But, Drone2-D is one of the points where we are having issues in SOLAR STARFIRE as well. Once Drone2 comes onto the scene, armed with D or Dg, they are pretty hard on AP. The question we need to answer is whether we want that to be a period where buoys aren't very effective or not.

As for ULTRA, it looks like Drone2 is pretty powerful and doesn't really seem to lose power. But once FQ comes on the scene, they can certainly be used to wipe out Drone2 attacks. But then it usually starts as a Drone2-D vs. FQ battle in the beginning and that gets expensive too.

The only upside is that Drone2-DA is expensive: 25 + 15 = 40 MC each.

This is a thread asking for more information. The deployment I gave an example of is why we stopped leaving our buoys active. What are other players doing that we are not? I want to know how other players are experiencing that ULTRA WPs are easy to bottle up. Which is not my experience at all. I want data.


I understand that. But I try not to launch into an "I know it all" and instead try to ask questions on the parts that I don't know. And occasionally, as demonstrated above, when I haven't touched a set of rules in half a decade I can forget things... especially when I talk to Marvin and he says "This is how it was supposed to work..." :lol:

(Note: I'm specifically thinking of BASV right here, which has nothing to do with the topic. Just an example of this type of conversation I have with Marvin when asking about how something was intended to work.)

Anyway, you never told me how you are destroying your opponent's AP. I can see the Drone2-D, but what about SL4 and SL5 ? And if using ships, how do they survive the first turn of transit when they can't even see the buoys to attack them?
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Re: WP Defense Tips and Tricks

Postby PracticalM on Mon 30 Dec 2013 00:40

Xveers wrote:I'll have to go dig up the turn sheets for actual numbers, but I believe the battle I was specifically thinking of had about 300 BOUY2 with 2 APEW's each. Either laser or force beam, I can't remember which. Around the WP were several ships with APCa within 30 HS. They were placed one tH around the WP equally. First wave of ships transited in, and I think it was about... 100 AP that were then ordered to attack the nearest ship that had already transited on the next turn. So that's after the ships have transited and stabilized.

Incidentally, this was also the same battle that (I believe) resulted in some modifications to how D works on AP, since the defender made D-equipped mine patterns to deal with hostile gunboats. Those were posted a bit farther out from the WP and did a good job at roughing up the gunboats.

Warships (mainly BCs with Rb fittings) start going active in the second turn and begin pouring fire. I wish I had done a turn by turn on that particular battle. The assault order wasn't the best, and the attacker realized this later, but if his navy hadn't failed a morale check earlier they might have taken the WP.


Okay so you were using direct control as well. I'd love to know what the attackers had in HS versus the defenders.
Did you allow APC ships to direct buoys only after they activated?
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Re: WP Defense Tips and Tricks

Postby PracticalM on Mon 30 Dec 2013 01:36

Without sY on a buoy the only possible targeting is any unit. Thus, the buoys will target drone and be wasted against drones instead of ships if empires choose to leave buoys always active.

From Xveers post, his group saw that as well. Which is good because it means to use buoys well on defense requires APC or CC equipped ships fairly close to the WP.

In some ways this could be bad because a lot of time and effort can be wasted by players who might not grasp buoy and drone deployment well. But it does reward skill and practice with the rules just like using any other weapon combinations.

In regards to Buoy2-XO, they are cheaper. They do have a max range of 7 and they won't target drone beyond range 4 so you can set the engagement range to miss them by only firing at targets between 5-7 hexes away.
AP datalink seems to get expensive pretty fast so we never used it, preferring instead to activate drones and give them engagement areas where they were firing into blind spots.
Though the Control buoys should be reusable when you deploy armed buoys and you can give them sY for better targeting (also preventing wasting fire on drones).

An empire might be able to get away with buoys left on active if they used 1 control buoy sYasZ3 for 60 MCr with every 3 Buoy2-XO at 20 each. at 120 per combat group that's 50 groups each firing 15 Ra. At least restocking would only cost half that. If you get XOb you can get 3 Rca on each combat buoy which would be 9 Rca per group. That's going to hurt any attacker.

My group overlooking the potential of control buoys might explain how we never really relied too heavily on buoys. There's something about spending half your cash on something that isn't doing damage that caused us to shy away. And you only get to reuse the control buoys if you win.

Are you saying that Drone2-DbDb can fire every turn? I placed them in with non explosive weapons that can fire only every 5th turn. When they fire only every 5th turn, there's more chance to blow them up. You can always go with buoy2-DbDb which also helps against GBb transiting the WP.

[Solar: The D rules for targeting are not changed in Solar 6.02-201307. This is much more a feature than a bug. If it stops empires from leaving buoys on active and makes defending WPs harder why would you change it? If empires want to leave a bunch of basic sensor buoys on active they deserve to lose their field to a group of drone1.]
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Re: WP Defense Tips and Tricks

Postby Xveers on Mon 30 Dec 2013 02:50

PracticalM wrote:Without sY on a buoy the only possible targeting is any unit. Thus, the buoys will target drone and be wasted against drones instead of ships if empires choose to leave buoys always active.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but AP can be set to engage "large units" or "small units" as per their targeting parameters. Additionally, without a Y module the AP can't ever see the drones, so the basic APEW bouy2 will NEVER engage drones unless they are told and can even see them. Table EE.03 says Drone2+ gets a scan range, but seems to state that Bouys and Drone1 get no scan range, which is how we interpreted it.

As far as programming goes, the orders literally were "Shoot nearest largest ship 1 turn after detection", and that was the program that the APC assigned them. Since they are APEWs, there is no second turn with em ;)
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Re: WP Defense Tips and Tricks

Postby Cralis on Mon 30 Dec 2013 05:06

PracticalM wrote:In regards to Buoy2-XO, they are cheaper. They do have a max range of 7 and they won't target drone beyond range 4 so you can set the engagement range to miss them by only firing at targets between 5-7 hexes away.


They are only limited to a range of 7 tH if you don't link them to an sY. But in this case, it may be an unnecessary cost at lower SLs.

...sY for better targeting (also preventing wasting fire on drones).


As noted, this is only the case when not under direct control, and not in a datalink with a master AP with sY.

Are you saying that Drone2-DbDb can fire every turn? I placed them in with non explosive weapons that can fire only every 5th turn. When they fire only every 5th turn, there's more chance to blow them up. You can always go with buoy2-DbDb which also helps against GBb transiting the WP.


That... is a good question. It would seem that the rule covering point defense does not say that they can fire every turn. Thus they would seem to fall under the non-explosive weapons "every 5th turn" rule. I do believe I may have been doing this one wrong in BOTH versions.

Solar: The D rules for targeting are not changed in Solar 6.02-201307. This is much more a feature than a bug. If it stops empires from leaving buoys on active and makes defending WPs harder why would you change it? If empires want to leave a bunch of basic sensor buoys on active they deserve to lose their field to a group of drone1.


Hmmmm.... this would make no sense in light of the first sentences in the buoy inherent sensor rules in D9.05.1, which allow the buoy to detect the difference between large and small units. The second sentence is contradictory! Further, both contradict D9.08.2... and that's in the ULTRA rules too.

For SSF, I'll have to go back and look at previous editing notes, but I seem to recall that we were to have changed it so that the first 3 options were supposed to be the only choices for basic buoy sensors and that we were supposed to have edited the second sentence. If you recall, the first version of the SSF rules I had some version control issues and we lost a handful of edits... it's very likely that was one of them.

Anyway, as for "not changing", see that in SSF D9.08.2 that it specifies that AP do not have "scanners" (I should change that to say "Scan Range" for clarity).

I'd imagine that if there was to be an edit of ULTRA, either D9.05.1 would have to change to remove that ability or D9.02.1.1 would have to change. I'm curious; which would you prefer and why?

Xveers wrote:
PracticalM wrote:Without sY on a buoy the only possible targeting is any unit. Thus, the buoys will target drone and be wasted against drones instead of ships if empires choose to leave buoys always active.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but AP can be set to engage "large units" or "small units" as per their targeting parameters. Additionally, without a Y module the AP can't ever see the drones, so the basic APEW bouy2 will NEVER engage drones unless they are told and can even see them. Table EE.03 says Drone2+ gets a scan range, but seems to state that Bouys and Drone1 get no scan range, which is how we interpreted it.

As far as programming goes, the orders literally were "Shoot nearest largest ship 1 turn after detection", and that was the program that the APC assigned them. Since they are APEWs, there is no second turn with em ;)


Xveers, he's right about buoys as per ULTRA D9.02.1.1 bullet 1, last sentence (italicized); and D9.05.1 last sentence. However, drones have NO such limitation because they use small craft sensors (D9.06).
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